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Leigh Johnson

This is really great, Eric. I wonder if there might be a bit of dissymmetry between (i), (ii) and (iii) in your formulation, though.

It seems like the "social" equivalent of getting fired by a university (ii) or being sent to jail (iii) would be something more severe than "receiving criticism and disapprobation from your peers." Rather, it would be akin to what sometimes gets called "social exile," i.e., being expelled from shared social space in the same way that a university expels one from the work/economic/educational space and the state expels one from civic space. That seems to be what happens in the plagiarist's case that you describe, so I think this suggestion is not inconsistent with your larger argument.

This may be a ticky-tack point, but we criticize and/or express disapprobation toward members of our social world all the time and still permit them show up and play. So, it may be worth amping up the severity of your description of (i). Pogge's worry about "trial by Internet," after all, is that its effects are, in the social space, isomorphic with the effects of university judgments in the workspace and state judgments in the civic space. That worry, I suspect, is what gives moral force to his warning (and also to the many calls on the Internet and IRL to "suspend judgment.") I think your piece does a great job of thinking through whether or not there really is isomorphism between (i), (ii), and (iii) here-- I'm not entirely settled on that question myself-- but I think at least posing them as more or less equivalent from the outset might make your case even more persuasively.

(Also, thanks for the s/o!)

Adriel Trott

I think we should also recognize that trial by ordeal affects contingent faculty in a way that esteemed faculty have the resources - including reputation, which the profession is responsible for- to resist. Consider how contingent faculty are dismissible in incidents that have a whiff of the possibility of liability to the university while esteemed faculty are protected and their accusers dismissible in incidents with much much more information that a situation is questionable / illegal. If we are trying to rank harms, the economic, social and psychological harm to those contingent faculty would seem to be much more severe when they are dismissed with less process and information.

Eric Schliesser

Leigh, thank you for your reflections.
Yes, I agree that 'social exile' would fit aspects of the the analogy better (and certainly bits of my discussion). But social sanction is also just about the worst professional sanction (like capital punishment), and I was hoping to have descriptions that cover a range of sanctions. In part because I think trial by internet nearly always falls short of generating social exile--often some other institution (or set of institutions) need to get in on the action.

Eric Schliesser

Adriel, yes that's right.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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